Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, Africa’s Largest Promoter of Freestyle Football unveils Freestyle Africa Unlocked 2020 Championships
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 is the fourth installment of the annual football freestyle event|
The largest promoter of Freestyle Football in Africa, Feet ‘N’ Tricks International , has unveiled the maiden edition of the Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 championship which is first of its kind on the continent.
Valentine Ozigbo, the Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, in the company’s first vitual press conference held on Zoom on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, revealed that the championship is going to be online and packed with prizes and suprises to “develop and nuture an art, a lifestyle, and a passion for many”.
Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 is the fourth installment of the annual football freestyle event.
A respected Nigerian business leader and philantropist, Mr. Ozigbo, speaking from Lagos, expressed his passion and commitment to continue to grow freestyle football in Africa. “We will not stop till an African emerges the World Champion, and we host the World Freestyle Football Championships in Nigeria and, who knows, it might even be in my home state of Anambra.”
While noting that the world was going through a difficult time owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Ozigbo explained that his passion for the development of the freestyle genre of football spurred him to find a way past the pandemic in order to continue a tradition which had become his passion. He further stated that while most other sports had shut or scaled down, freestyle football can go on very easily in a non-contact manner to respect the physical distancing rules.
The press conference was attended by over 150 participants including leading publishers, journalists, professional freestylers, and sports enthusiasts from across the continent.
Some of the prominent personalities in attendance were Daniel Woods, a co-founder of the World Freestyle Football Association, Amaju Pinnick, Nigeria’s top football administrator, Lukas Skoda, Operations Manager for WFFA, Odyke Nzewi, a Director of Feet n Tricks, and Dele Momodu, the founder of Ovation Media Group.
Top professional freestylers who joined the event are Titi Kone, who is the reigning African champion, Ayoub Haouas from Tunisia, Ashley Mkhize from South Africa, and Patofs from Madagascar.
Daniel Wood, while speaking at the conference, thanked Ozigbo for seeing beyond the despair and helplessness in the world to hope and opportunities using virtual means.
Wood stated that the global lockdown caused a lull in global sporting activities and applauded Mr. Ozigbo for his tenacity, as Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 is the only freestyle competition holding this year asides the World Freestyle Football Championship which is currently ongoing.
He also expressed his enthusiasm for Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 as he saw it as an opportunity to showcase the beauty and talents that are untapped in Africa.
Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), delivered a goodwill message in which he echoed the praises and encouragement of Mr. Wood.
The Nigerian football boss wished Feet ‘N’ Tricks the best of luck for Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 and pledged support from the country’s football federation.
Mr. Ozigbo broke down the mechanics of the contest indicating that it is designd for inclusiveness and will have male and female competitors win daily prizes while freestyle footballers would compete for the $1000 grand prize. A total of $6,300 will be given out in cash prizes.
Valentine Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Plc, called on well-meaning sponsors and sports-lovers alike to seize this chance to push forward a culture that can rally people and foster unity and oneness.
Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 begins on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 and the grand finale holds on Monday, July 20, 2020.
| Feet ‘n’ Tricks International Limited is the official host for freestyle football competitions in Africa. The company is strongly committed to growing awareness and participation in the art form that is freestyle football. The company has hosted successful annual championships since 2017. Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 will be the 4th edition of the championships. The events are held in partnership with the World Freestyle Football Association, the world body governing the sport.|
*SOURCE Feet ‘N’ Tricks International
Cameroon: PWD Bamenda President Pascal Abunde Narrates Escaping Relegation Zone to winning the Elite 1 Football Championship
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Five years as President of PWD of Bamenda, Pascal Abunde has taken the football team from the brink of relegation to be crowned champions of the Elite 1 football championship in Cameroon. Pascal Abunde in 2019 was voted the best President in the Cameroon Professional League during the second edition of the Cameroon sports Awards held in the nation’s capital Yaounde.
In an exclusive interview granted PAV Cameroon correspondent on May 25, 2020, the energetic President of PWD Bamenda, Abunde Pascal narrated the teams escape from the relegation zone during the 2018/2019 season to winning the 2019/2020 football season. He has called on the government of Cameroon to provide the necessary financial assistance that will help the team prepare for the CAF Champions League.
Reporter: PWD barely survived relegation last year, and now the side has won the championship this season, what is your reaction to the side’s performance last year and the side winning the championship this year?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: This scenario is gradually becoming part of our DNA. Worth noting is that we had the same scenario in 2017 that we were almost relegated to the Regional Division 3 championship, and then next year (2018) we had an excellent year as we were promoted to Elite 1 football championship. This is the second of its kind and it is probably proving something, a trend that we are all realizing.
Reporter: It must have been a challenge to come from a relegation battle and go on to win the championship this season?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: Obviously we knew we were underdogs in this championship; we were not even tipped to be amongst the first 10. We came into this competition with our hidden objective; we knew we could also have our own something to prove in the championship. Coming from that position as an underdog, we gradually moved to the position of an outsider, and later on, came to the top of the championship to the surprise of many people. We thought we could not be champions but from everything we learn especially going through the difficult phase last season there was a lot to be exploited and we knew that there were possible areas we could find our way through. That is the strategy we used, and we are happy to realize that it actually paid off.
Reporter: Can we also say the strategy to maintain the coach (David Pagou), when other teams were sacking their coaches due to poor results, help you as a team?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: There was a change of strategy, change of approach at the beginning of the season, especially learning from the difficult time we had last season. Last season we had a change of coach, but it did not really salvage the situation that much. We thought that we should get a coach that shares the same philosophy as that of management, getting young players who are ready to prove something, contrary to the older or more “experienced” players we had in the past. Putting all the parts to the puzzle together so that we could possibly achieve something great and that is what we did.
Reporter: How has PWD been coping with the security challenges the region has been going through for the past years?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: It is a huge handicap for teams plying their trade in this part of the country. First of all, the training sessions are not consistent, you have Mondays that are ghost towns, and nothing happens on Mondays. We have lesser times to prepare our team contrary to the other teams based in the other parts of the country.
Secondly, it is not easy to follow a specific programme because of the insecurity we have been witnessing. You might prepare to travel on a Friday, and something happens and you find yourself travelling on a Saturday when you have a game on Sunday; you arrive maybe 12 hours to game time. It actually affects the results that you will have in the game; the proof is the game we had against Bamboutos.
Reporter: What support have you been getting from your fans not just in the North West but across the national triangle with a huge fan base in the South West and Centre Region?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: One thing we have succeeded in doing is to build a strong fan base. I am proud to say that we might have one of the strongest fan bases now in Cameroon, and not only in the country but in the Diaspora. We have organized our fans in several zones, and they are doing an incredible job. We have fans in the South West, Littoral, Centre, North, West, and all over the national territory. All those fans have shown that once people are united for a particular course/objective (genuine objective) they will definitely succeed. The great reason for the success is because of our huge and highly coordinated fan base.
Reporter: PWD will be participating in a continental assignment this year, what are you expecting from the government in terms of support?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: Participating in the CAF champions league (the second most prestigious cup after the AFCON) is a new thing for us and a huge exploit. We are going to be discovering this competition for the first time. Based on government legislation we have acquired the status of a national team. We expect the government to come in and give us support. Presently, Cameroon has fallen down the pecking order in terms of participation in Africa due to our mediocre performance in the continental championship. We expect the government to give us a very serious push, maybe considering us as a national team, give us the necessary resources we might need to prepare this team so that we can have a good team in place ready to challenge; not only to go and learn but to challenge and also to bring back our position in terms of representation in the continental championships.
Reporter: let us talk about finance, what are the sources of income your club have?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: Our main source of finance comes from the shareholders who put in financial resources in the holding company that manages and runs the club. Again, we receive some subventions from the football Federation (just like any other team in the country). We receive contributions from our fans that go a long way to finance some of the aspects of the team, not forgetting the sales of gadgets, and gate fees, and other initiatives we put from time to time in order to generate income to run the cup.
Reporter: Going back to your continental exploit next year, with the poor nature of the pitch in Bamenda, where will your team be playing their matches in the CAF Champions League?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: Bamenda would have been the best place to host the games since it is the hometown of PWD. You would imagine PWD taking against TP Mazembe at the Mankon Municipal Stadium. Unfortunately, the stadium is the way it is, works have been suspended there. We are hoping that something can be done. We have other options, Limbe that has been so fair to us (that is where the team was maintained last season and that is where the team won this year’s championship), we equally have Yaounde that has a huge fan base. On a personal note, if Bamenda is out of the picture then Limbe should be the next option. The board has to make the decision taking into consideration so many factors.
Reporter: Let us talk about the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected sporting activities, how has the club been supporting its players?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: It has been an extremely challenging time for not only PWD but for clubs worldwide as some have been slashing salaries, suspending payments. We as PWD have used a community approach in handling this issue. We discuss with our players on a regular basis. We try to give them some allowances on a monthly basis, not up to what they would have been earning full time but again it is something that can enable them to keep them up and running. It is not easy for clubs, but I hope we get over it as soon as possible.
Reporter: Talking about the assistance that was given to clubs by the Federation, what can you say about it?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: The assistance was a good gesture, highly welcome by PWD as it was the first of its kind. We could not possibly reach out to all the players (PWD used some 31 players last campaign), but again we have an approach where we made sure that everybody feels the impact of the gesture. Officially, 20 players and 5 staff were assisted. We have 35 licences but it is worth noting that not all the 35 players are available (about 28 players are available), so we used another approach as management to make sure that the other players feel an impact of the very important gesture.
Reporter: What motivates you to take on this huge challenge of managing PWD?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: Well, I have been in office for five years now. I actually created this new philosophy of PWD in the community when we started this project in 2015. The club barely existed. We played in the fourth division in the regional league; we played the third division and came up the next year to the Elite 2 where we played for two years. From there we came up to the Elite 1 championship where we have been playing, this is our second year that we are at the pinnacle of the championship. It is a dream that I had at the very beginning and I am very happy that in a short time we have grown through the ranks and we are where we are now.
The dream does not stop here, the motivation is still there, and we fill that we can still do more. We have to do everything possible to confirm our position next year. We want to be a household name in Cameroonian football, we want to be there, take part in African competitions on a more regular basis. That is the motivation, that is the dream I have, and I think with the support of the fans, management, players we may achieve a lot in the years to come.
Reporter: President any last word?
PWD President Pascal Abunde: I want to use this opportunity to thank all the fans of PWD in Cameroon, in the Diaspora, the sympathizers of this club, local authorities where we are based, the management of this club (the board of directors) who have put their trust in me for this project to be fruitful. I thank the players, the staff, everybody who has played a role most especially the press; they have been impeccable for this period of time projecting our darling club to the limelight. I call on everyone to continue in the same spirit, and if we do that the sky is never going to be our limit and this is just the beginning, there are better things, and days to come.
Gambia 2019/2020 National League Declare Null And Void
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has finally declared the 2019/2020 Domestic League null and void further declaring no winners, no promotions and relegation.
This development is sequel to due consultation with the GFF affiliate clubs which is as a result of the declaration of a State of Public Emergency by President Adama Barrow amidst the Corona Virus pandemic (Covid-19).
Nonetheless, the GFF will allow the current number ONE and Number TWO of the 1st Division League (Real De Banjul FC and GAF FC) to represent the Gambia in the CAF Club Championship and CAF Confederation’s Cup respectively.
The GFF however, will provide financial support to clubs from the Covid-19 Relief Fund while urgent and necessary steps would be taken to improve the conditions of the football fields.
The GFF Executive would like to extend its gratitude to the management of all the clubs for their cooperation and understanding during these difficult times in our football.
Football:Kenya survives, given 30 days to pay ex-coach
May 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The world football governing Fifa has ordered Kenya Football Federation (FKF) to pay former technician Adel Amrouche Ksh.109 million ($1.09 million) over unlawful dismissal in the next 30 days.
The directive was issued on Monday, May 18, after FKF-Amrouche dispute was re-submitted to Fifa’s Disciplinary Committee for evaluation after defaulted on payment.
On September 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) awarded the Algerian-born Belgian Sh.108, 194, 863 (approximately $108 million) for wrongful termination of contract in 2014. The East African nation was given 30 days starting from October 1 to settle the debt. Fifa on December 2019, added Amrouche another Sh. 181, 511 totalling to Sh.109, 376,374 ($109 million).
The World governing body on February 28, 2020 wrote to Nick Mwendwa-led federation directed them to pay Amrouche by March 3 but the federation wrote back requesting for more time. The Zurich body gave FKF up to March 9 to settle the matter; however, they did not act.
Two weeks later, FIFA wrote again to FKF warning them of dire consequences including expulsion from Fifa completions if they fail to pay the Botswana coach in a period of 30 days. Nonetheless, the federation still failed to honour the order forcing the body re-submit the matter to the Disciplinary Committee.
In a letter dated April 24 addressed to FKF CEO Barry Otieno, the body set May 18, as the day the African country would know its fate concerning the case. Fortunately, Kenya survived Fifa’s sanctions after being given another 30 days to settle the matter.
“In this regard, we take due note from the content of the above-mentioned correspondence that the Football Kenya Federation allegedly did not pay the amounts due to the coach Adel Amrouche within the granted deadline and that the latter therefore requests that further disciplinary sanctions be imposed on the Football Kenya Federation,” read a letter.
“In this sense, we kindly inform the parties that, in accordance with point 4. of the decision passed by the Chairman of the Fifa Disciplinary Committee on 23 March 2020, the case will be resubmitted to a member of the Fifa Disciplinary Committee on 18 May 2020 for evaluation in order to decide on harsher sanctions to be imposed on the Football Kenya Federation, which may lead, among others, to possible expulsion from Fifa competitions,” the letter added.
FKF boss Nick Mwendwa had sought government’s intervention but the Sports Minister Amina Mohamed revealed the government will not pay for what she termed as mistakes by the federation.
Amrouche had narrated his suffering tale after Kenya sacked his after Harambee Stars was bundled out of 2015 AFCON qualifiers.
“I have been waiting since 2014 and for me one month or more (moratorium) is the same. But its a question of principle, because FKF deserted me when Caf banned me for something I never did. I was thrown out of my apartment with no car, no money and I was struggling alone to pay a lawyer for two years while I was jobless. I spent all my money and family money, but I never said anything bad about Kenya. I was innocent and my only mistake was to be coach of Kenya,” lamented Amrouche.
COVID-19 Pandemic: FIFA to Support USD150 Million Across the Globe
April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
World Football governing body, FIFA has revealed that it will support 211 national football governing bodies around the globe with USD 150 million as a relief plan assist the football community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
FIFA will release all operational funding due to member associations for the years 2019 and 2020 in the coming days as the first step of a relief plan to assist the football community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This measure will mean that a total of around USD 150 million will be distributed among the 211 national football governing bodies around the world.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for the entire football community and, as the world governing body, it is FIFA’s duty to be there and support the ones that are facing acute needs,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “This starts by providing immediate financial assistance to our member associations, many of which are experiencing severe financial distress.
“This is the first step of a far-reaching financial relief plan we are developing to respond to the emergency across the whole football community. Together with our stakeholders, we are we assessing the losses and we are working on the most appropriate and effective tools to implement the other stages of this relief plan.
“I would like to thank the chairpersons of the FIFA Development Committee, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, and the FIFA Finance Committee, Alejandro Domínguez, for their commitment and urgent approval of these measures by their committees.”
As part of the measure, all remaining entitlements of member associations to operational costs under the Forward 2.0 Programme will be released in full for the years 2019 and 2020. In particular, the release of the second instalment of operational costs for 2020, which was originally due in July, will be paid immediately.
Under normal circumstances, FIFA’s member associations would have only received the full amount of the contribution upon fulfillment of specific criteria. Instead, FIFA is now transferring this amount as an active support to help safeguard football across all member associations.
Concretely, this means that FIFA will release USD 500,000 to each member association in the coming days as well as any remaining entitlement for 2019 and 2020.
Source: FIFA Website
COVID-19: Households, Local clubs to benefit from Samuel Eto’o Fils’ Aid Package
April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Former captain of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon Samuel Eto’o has said he will provide fifty thousand households with supplies to help support efforts against the coronavirus in his home country. Local footballers who are facing hardship will also be assisted financially.
The distribution exercise will target areas hard hit by the coronavirus in the country such as Douala, Yaounde, Buea, and Baffoussam. The exercise begins Friday, April 16, in Douala.
His gestures come as Cameroonian footballers in the country have been urged to do more in providing help to Cameroonians battling the coronavirus in the country.
The four-time African footballer of the year through his foundation, Fundación Privada Samuel Eto’o in collaboration with a host of institutions amongst which are the Kadji Group, Utopia, BETOO and Twist Night Club Group made public their intentions to join the fight in a release published on Wednesday evening.
The initiative also includes the foundation partnering with BETOO to produce 50 000 washable masks obeying the standard quality and protection required. Those masks are mainly intended for the taxi driver and motorcycle taxi which represents one of the most exposed sociopolitical categories after the medical staff. These masks will be given to the Union representatives for distribution to their respective members.
The humanitarian support from the initiative will equally target professional footballers from across 44 local clubs in Cameroon. The Samuel Eto’o Foundation in association with sports management agency UTOPIA and the company BETOO will support professional football players who have lost their wages due to this health crisis imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health protection kits and foodstuffs will be provided through the FECAFOOT to 1000 players involving the 44 clubs that make up the different championships for men’s Ligue1 and 2 and the Women’s Ligue 1.
“The Samuel Eto’o Foundation wishes to precise that this action aims to further support to Cameroonian citizens from a health perspective than food. The primary objective is to slow the progress of the pandemic,” a communiqué read in part.
“Our action … will be articulated on one hand around a mass and field awareness in favour of the “regular handwashing with soap and water” and on the other hand with distribution of handwashing kits which include potable water, bleach, soap, as well as support with foodstuffs such as rice, salt, for the benefit of at least fifty thousand households of the poorest strata of the Cameroonian population of Buea, Douala, Yaounde, and Baffoussam.”
The Samuel Eto’o Foundation has meanwhile called on Cameroonians to respect the prescribed rules to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In that light, He is calling for a common vigilance, unstoppable solidarity, and a sense of responsibility for everyone. “It is at the cost of all these common efforts and sacrifice that we will defeat this pandemic,” Samuel Eto’o noted.
Samuel Eto’o is well known for his humanitarian gestures in his home country and across the world. All these efforts are geared towards stopping the spread of the coronavirus so that people can resume their normal activities.
Back in March, Indomitable Lions player Christian Bassagog, who plays in China, made available FCFA 10 million to help Cameroonians stranded in China.
COVID-19: SLFA Donates LE 656 Million Solidarity Boost for Clubs and Players
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The President of the Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA Isha Tejan-Cole Johansen has confirmed that six hundred and fifty-six million Leones (Le 656,000,000) has been donated to Premier, First, and Second Division clubs in the country as a solidarity contribution by SLFA, as per the SLFA Media Department.
Four hundred and six million Leones (Le 406,000,000) will be distributed to 14 Premier clubs and Two hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 250,000,000) contribution goes to the Five Regional football Associations to be spread out and allocated to the respective lower division clubs (Division One and Two).
The novel coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact in the sporting domain as leagues across Africa, and many parts of the world have been put on hold. Football in Sierra Leone has equally been affected.
“These are abnormal and truly worrying times, and the only instinctive reaction these days are how to protect and be protected. As a parent football body in Sierrra Leone, we have a duty to support and protect each other,” Isha Johansen remarked.
Financial donations are not the only gesture from SLFA. In addition to financial boost, several hundreds of face masks will be distributed to SLFA staff and clubs.
All football activities in the nation has been put on hold until further notice as a part of the precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.
A statement by SLFA signed by General Secretary Chris Kamara explained that it was taking the decision following the world football governing body’s recommendations while tasking all clubs and football connected bodies to conform to the instructions.
“In line with the government’s effort in preventing the coronavirus, and in compliance with the FIFA recommendations to its member associations for general precaution, the Sierra Leone Football Association has suspended all football related activities across the country effective today, Tuesday 17th March 2020,” the communiqué read in part.
“SLFA is encouraging all Clubs, Regional and District Football Association and its affiliates including but not limited to Mini Leagues and officials to comply with the directives to protect fans, players, coaches, and everyone involved in the beautiful game of football, and most importantly to prevent the virus from entering in Sierra Leone.”
COVID-19: Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and others hit out at using Africa as “Guinea pigs” to test Potential Vaccine
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Four times African Player of the Year, and Cameroon great, Samuel Eto’o Fils and Ivorian Legend Didier Drogba have both hit out at “racist” and “contemptuous” calls made by two doctors on French TV calling for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa.
A video of the doctors’ comment was posted on Twitter by Senegalese forward and Former Newcastle and Chelsea player Demba Ba
Demba Ba wrote: “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and stupidity become commonplace. TIME TO RISE
There are ongoing studies on the possibility of using the BCG vaccine that has previously been used for Tuberculosis, as a possible preventive vaccine for the coronavirus.
“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, and no resuscitation? Professor Jean-Paul Mira, Head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris asked on French TV.
“The same as for some AIDS studies where prostitutes try things because we know they are unprotected,” He added
Professor Camille Locht replied: “You are right. We are currently thinking in parallel about a study in Africa to make this same type of approach with the BCG.”
“There is a tender process that has gone out or is going to go out. We will seriously think about that. That doesn’t prevent us from thinking in parallel about a study in Europe, and Australia,” He added
Multiple awards winner Samuel Eto’o vented out his anger as he replied to Ba’s video on Twitter as he held nothing back. “Sons of Bitches,” He said.
“You are SH*T. Africa isn’t yours to play with,” the former Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea player said on Instagram.
Two-time African player of the year winner Didier Drogba equally vented out his frustration as he called the comments “absurd” while advocating against the use of Africa as “guinea pigs.”
“It is inconceivable that we continue to accept this,” Drogba wrote on Twitter. “Africa is not a laboratory. I strongly denounce this racist and contemptuous remark.” “Help us safe lives in Africa, and stop the spread of this virus which is destabilizing the whole world, instead of considering us as guinea pigs. It is absurd.”
He went on to add: “African leaders have the responsibility to protect their people from these heinous plots.”
Scientists across the globe are in a race against time to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. Health specialist note that it could take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is produce as it has to go through various tests before it is certified.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earliest the US could possibly get a vaccine would be in 12 or even 18 months — “at least.”
40 vaccines for the coronavirus are in development right now, according to the World Health Organization. A number of labs have begun human trials.
Insight Into The Rainbow Model For Sports and Development In Africa
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
While many young stars view the exploits of superstars like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’0, Patrick Mboma, Sadio Mane and others in awe and will like to emulate them, the complex dynamics and structures of football management in Africa make the odds very slim. In structures like the Rainbow World Group, Africa is coming to terms with the fact that beyond entertainment, sports can be a critical ingredient in sustainable development and that talent can be programmed to succeed.
With stakes in in energy, telecoms, sports and media, the Rainbow World Group is impacting lives in a positive way with creating jobs and driving prosperity across Africa. PAV caught up Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong, and James Woods-Nkhutabasa Regional Director, Rainbow Sports to get insight into the operations of the group and its sports section which is shaping up to be a reference in Africa.
Could we start this interview by getting an introduction of the Rainbow World Group in general and Rainbow football in particular?
Rainbow World Group (RWG) is a diversified holding company with interests in sports, investments and trading in Africa. It is a Pan-African proprietary investment company which is driving development within the African continent, as well as globally. We specialize in building and growing businesses that last. Our investments in Sports, Media, Energy, Telecoms, just to cite a few, are helping to create jobs, build economies, drive prosperity, and eventually transform lives of ordinary people in Africa.
Rainbow football on the other hand is a division of RWG, which focuses its investments in the football industry. Rainbow football operates a global sports management company covering the entire sports value chain including but not limited to sports marketing and management, sports franchise ownership, sports financing and consulting. In regard to the sports franchise ownership, we currently own Rainbow Football Club in Cameroon and MFK Vyškov in the Czech Republic.
Rainbow football explores specific opportunities pertaining to on-field talent which can be integrated within its parent company and serves as a link between Africa and the rest of the world in activities such as talent identification, retention, development and management.
In what parts of Africa do you have operations?
Africa generally is our home of operations where we then extend these operations globally. We are currently pursuing projects with international partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Our specific focused operations at the moment are found in Cameroon, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Kenya, Benin, while we also have satellite operations in other African nations. Malawi is also a terrain our group has an interest in on the football front and other areas of investment.
What does football represent for Africa today and how could it be a factor in building a better future for the continent?
Football is the most popular sport in Africa just as it is in the world. It is embedded in the social realities of the continent and it is played, watched or followed almost everywhere in the continent. This tells you the level of attachment and passion we Africans have with this beautiful game. This therefore represents a form of HOPE for Africa. Young people use it to dream of a better future for the continent.
Through football a lot can be achieved that can change the narrative of the African continent. Due to the love and association to the sports of lots of African, it can used as an educational portal for the young African population, as well as it can be used to bring infrastructural development in most areas of the continent. For example, football instill a lot of relevant life skills in those involved that it can be transferred into other works of life. Discipline, Leadership, teamwork, are just some of the very important skills gotten out of the game that can be further enhanced in the youths of the continent if this game is factored in properly in the building of the continent. That is why we at Rainbow Football, are putting in place an educational program which will have a high level of impact in the youths of our operating areas that will help in their future development and hence leading to a better future of the continent in its own small way.
May we know how you identify the talents that you work with?
Well the identification of gifted and talented young players requires specialist knowledge of the game and a deep understanding of athletic potential, psychological profiling and motivation. We have drawn upon knowledge from the growing body of research and expertise gathered throughout football and other professions to aid the identification of talented and gifted young people and have built a leading understanding of its potential to support our recruitment process.
We possess ties to a strong and extensive network of scouts, coaches, club and academy owners across Africa. In addition to our own scouting team and processes, we are often contacted when promising players show themselves.
Furthermore, we host open trials across Africa which gives recruiters significant access and exposure to unseen talent that can emanate from areas across the region. We then supplement the on-ground presence with extensive video review analysis.
That’s how we identify the talents we work with. I believe that our strong competitive advantage its our ability and willingness to scout in places that which scouting organizations will not go to or may not know exist nor have easy access to get there.
When you identify the talents what next, what is it Rainbow does to help have successful careers?
When a talent is identified, the next step is to figure out where the player can be placed in order to have a successful career. Nonetheless, we undergo a couple of procedures in house to make sure all is in order before having them move.
When this happens, the player is signed to one of Rainbow’s teams through a standard FIFA approved player contract where they either play for the team or gets loaned/transferred to a professional club in our network of club contact, either in the USA, Europe, China (Asia) or Latin America. This helps to give the players further exposure in terms of visibility and development to attract top clubs.
Younger players (U18) are sent into academy structures to complete their secondary education (a key component that we value) and for further development of their already strong football skills where they will become eligible to play professional football upon graduation, given they will have reached 18 years of age.
May we know some of the famed football products or stars that you can use to show case the success of Rainbow?
Sure, we have a few famed players, though I can say most of our players do pretty well for their clubs and country and are still young with a very bright future ahead of them.
There is Christian Bassogog who plays in the top flight Chinese Super League, for Henan Jainye, and for the National team of Cameroon. He was best player of the 2017 African Nations Cup. He is one of the best forwards in his league.
There is Nohou Tolo, who plays for Seattle Sounders and Cameroon U23 National Team; Olivier Mbaizo for Philadelphia Union and Cameroon U23 national Team; Brian Anunga for Nashville SC; Alfusainey Jatta for Saalfelden in Austria and The Gambia; Michee Ngalina for Philadelphia Union; Oyongo Bitolo who plays for Montpelier in France and Cameroon’s National side; Yamikani Chester who spent 2019 at North Carolina FC and joined Las Vegas Lights for 2020 – he is star player for the Malawi National side. These are just few of the ones I can mention now and definitely in the near future most of our players will be top stars as a number of them have already attracted interest from clubs in top European and Asian leagues.
When Rainbow is placing a player with a foreign club what criteria is taken into consideration…the USA major league is not the most competitive, the Chinese league may be flowing with money but still not the most mediatized, so do prioritize monetary gain or an avenue where the player will grow in talent and career like Europe?
Our major concern is the player’s future development as we know how to ensure they develop in the right infrastructure, by doing so there is a higher likelihood of a successful career. However, we have a strategic approach to player placement across the global ecosystem and take certain key factors into consideration.
The key factors we look are:
- Fit into its “Growth and exposure” strategy,
- The style of play; which club does the players style of play fit with?
- Player’s interest: where the player’s desire lies,
- Status of the transfer window as it differs by country,
- The Demand available, and
- The Economics of the opportunity for the player, the club and our company.
As earlier mentioned, we host African combines twice a year to give teams from around the world access to players in our network. This often leads to deals for players being made during and immediately after these events.
For those aspiring to have successful careers and benefit from the expertise of Rainbow, what recommendations or advise do you have for them?
In our experience we have worked with all sorts of players, partners, clubs and affiliates. We have a well-informed understanding of what kind of player is going to make a successful career or not. Thus, the advice we give to aspiring talents is that they should be focused on their dream, be determined, have a strong work ethic and be disciplined. Talent is just about 20% of what a player needs to be successful. Those who keep a level head and work harder achieve a very successful career.
May we know some of the challenges that you typically face?
When you are working in the African space, this is one aspect you can not miss in your operations. However just like any other operations we have numerous issues we get to deal with in order to achieve our goals on a daily basis.
Firstly, the lack of investment at the grassroots level makes it challenging for the development of top talents that can compete at the global stage. Very few academies or organizations really invest or have the resources to invest rightly in player development at the grassroots level. As such you come across talents who require a lot more effort to be ready for the big stage.
Another major challenge is the lack of sporting/football infrastructure to support the countries’ football development or level of competitiveness. Take for example Cameroon which has been a top football country for decades but it is only now that we can boast of a couple top level football stadia only because we have to host the 2021 African Nations Cup, which was even withdrawn in 2019 because the infrastructure was not ready.
These are jut some of the challenges with a lot more that we have to deal with like corruption, lack of integrity and incompetence as well.
There have been complains that the quality of the game in Africa as dropped and most young African footballers only dream of playing in Europe with some staking all to get out of the continent only to end up frustrated, what is it Rainbow is doing or thinking of doing to strengthen the domestic leagues or grow local talent in Africa?
It is true that the quality of the game has dropped and it’s partly due to the reasons I mentioned earlier. The best talents are taken out because they can’t be rewarded well in their countries as such the quality of play is not top.
What we need to do is to think about working together as actors in the industry to create avenues to further develop talents locally and hence the game within the continent. That is why in our own capacity at Rainbow football, we are taking steps towards this because we believe there is a bright future for the game in Africa.
We have developed a process to promote and support the development of a world leading talent identification, recruitment, mentoring and management system which we call the RAINBOW WAY. It aims to deliver an environment that promotes excellence, nurtures talent and systematically converts these talents into professional players capable of playing first team football at the highest levels of the global game.
We are also thinking of investing heavily in football clubs to create top level professional clubs which will permit for top talents to still be held within the continent and achieve their career goals of making a living out of the game. This we hope will attract top talents as well with push the governments and other actors in the industry to put heads and hands together to build a better future for the game within the continent. Investment in football on the continent is often left to the government, which cannot sustain the sport hence why we see ourselves and a key player and catalyst in investing, supporting and enhancing the already existing structures, driving forward a robust commercialization of the sport and also attracting more involvement from the private sector.
How do you see the future of the game in Africa, and what more does Rainbow envisage to continue playing a leading role?
The future of the game in Africa is very bright. Just as many European nations have been running back to invest in other sectors in Africa termed Neocolonialism, so to there will be opportunities in football. Due to its low development at the moment, it can only get more attention for future development.
We are proud of having built the most extensive pan-African talent recruitment network. Successful talent identification and recruitment of players of all ages is vital to the future development of African football. This is a pivotal aspect of the Rainbow Way. Talent identification is a fundamental concern for African football and its youth development system. The Rainbow Way through its management, coaches and support staff have clearly defined roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis the identification of the very best talent on the continent. Its core strength is in yielding opportunities to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns in a complex and challenging yet lucrative region while at the same time contributing to the socio-economic development of the continent.
At Rainbow Football, we believe exceptional youth talent is central to the creation and the advancement of a better positioning of the African contribution to the world’s leading sport. Through the Rainbow Way, we plan to continue developing independent decision makers through the education provided that will ensure support to players to be able to achieve their full potential both in and out of the game. These tools will go a long way in contributing to the development of the future of African football.
Cameroon: Japoma Stadium to host CAF Champions League Final
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The fifty (50) thousand capacity Japoma Stadium located in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala has been confirmed by the Confederation of African Football, CAF as the venue for the CAF Champions League Final.
Cameroon (Japoma Stadium), Tunisia (Stade Olympique de Rades) and Morocco (Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca) were the bidders to host the prestigious event that will take place on 29 May 2020.
This year’s final will be for the first time played over a single game as opposed to previous finals played over two legs for the past fifty years. The reason for the change of the final is due to the chaotic end to last season’s competition, a final that is still being disputed at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS.
The 2020 final in West Africa will feature two teams from the North. In the semi-finals, Moroccan teams Wydad and Raja Casablanca are facing opponents from Egypt Al Ahly and Zamalek, respectively.
The Japoma Stadium is amongst the stadia to host this year’s edition of the Africa Nations Championship, CHAN which begins April 4 to 25, 2020. It is still unclear whether the competition will go on with the present wave of the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping across Africa.
However, CAF has continued to indicate that it has no plans of rescheduling or cancelling the African showpiece. The body has taken measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic as it suspended the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying header scheduled for late March and early April, while the Women’s U-20 World Cup qualifiers and the Women’s AFCON 2020 qualifiers have also been postponed, and will be rescheduled.
The newly built stadium will equally serve as one of the venues for the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON scheduled for January to February 2021.
CAF has equally approved the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco to host the final of the CAF Confederation Cup final. The stadium was the only bid for the second tier of the continent’s interclub competition. The final is scheduled for May 24.
Edyptian side Pyramids FC take on Horoya from Guinea in the first semi-final, while the second is an all-Moroccan affair as RS Berkane will battle against Hassania Agadir
Cameroon’s International footballer donates 10 million Frs to stranded students in coronavirus-hit China
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Cameroon’s International striker Christian Bassogog has donated some 10 million CFA francs to Cameroonian students residing in areas struck by the deadly coronavirus in China.
The money destined for students stranded in the city of Wuhan which has been under quarantine since 23 January he says, is to assist the young Cameroonians and to reassure them that they have not been forgotten by their ‘countrymen’.
“China holds a special place in my heart and this is where I exercise my profession,” said Bassogog after meeting the Minister for External Relation of Cameroon.
Urging people of goodwill to follow in his path and support affected victims, he said, “this money is intended to help Cameroonian nationals living in China, in particular students. It is important that we meet in such times and show such support and love to the needy. We want more Cameroonians around the world to reach out and support not only their compatriots but also China as a nation”.
The 24-year-old footballer, who plays club football with the Chinese Super League Henan Jianye, is currently in Yaoundé following the suspension of the championship in China because of the virus.
His donation comes after President Paul Biya also ordered that 50 Million frs be made available to the country’s embassy in Beijing to provide assistance to Cameroonians living in the affected areas.
Cameroon’s embassy in China says about 300 Cameroonians, mainly students, are living in Hubei Province, considered the epicentre of the Coronavirus epidemic.
Gambia Unveils Provisional Squad 2021 AFCON Qualifiers against Gabon
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Gambia’s Scorpions Head Coach Tom Saintfiet has submitted a provisional 35-man squad for the upcoming 2021 AFCON double header against Gabon on 26th March, 2020.
The selection features a consistent pool of players who have represented the Scorpions under the Belgian. One notable addition in the list is Young Boys FC player Saidy Janko who has recently been visited by Saintfiet during his scouting tour across Europe.
The provisional list will be trimmed to 23 players within a period of two weeks after which the final 23 man squad will travel to Gabon for the first leg to be played on Thursday 26th March, 2020, with the return in Banjul scheduled for Monday 30th March 2020.
Modou JOBE (Jeddah FC, Saudi Arabia), Sheikh SIBI (Virtus Verona, Italy), Baboucarr GAYE (VFB Stuttgart, Germany)
Pa Modou JAGNE (FC Zürich, Switzerland), Ibou TOURAY (Salford City, England), Alieu Jatta (Casa Sport, Senegal), Omar COLLEY (Sampdoria, Italy), Mohammed MBYE (Sweden), Bubacarr SANNEH (KV Oostende, Belgium), Maudo Jarju (Austria Wien, Austria), Sulayman BOJANG (Sarpsborg 08, Norway), Ngine Faye NJIE (Casa Sport, Senegal)
Alasana MANNEH (Górnik Zabrze, Poland), Dawda NGUM (Bronshoj, Denmark), Ebou ADAMS (Forest Green Rovers, England),Simon Richter (Bronshoj, Denmark), Saidy Janko ( Young Boys Bern, Switzerland), Ebrima Sohna (FC Mosta, Malta), Yusupha Bobb (Lecco, Italy), Sulayman MARREH (AA Gent, Belgium), Hamza BARRY (Hajduk Split, Croatia), Ablie JALLOW (AC Ajaccio, France), Ebrima COLLEY (Atalanta, Italy),
Assan CEESAY (VFL Osnabruck, Germany), Bubacarr JOBE (Mjällby, Sweden),Muhammed BADAMOSI (FUS Rabat, Morocco), Adama Jammeh (Etoile Du Sahel, Tunisia), Lamin Jallow (Salernitana, Italy), Musa Juwara (FC Bologna, Italy) Modou BARROW (Denizlispor Turkey) Musa Barrow (FC Bologna, Italy), Alassana Jatta (Viborg FF Denmark), Nuha Krubally Marong (Granada, Spain), Abdoulie Sanyang (Lommel SK, Belgium), Baboucarr Steve Trawally (Ajman FC UAE).
The general Public is further informed that Leon Guwara (FC Utrecht, Holland) Bakery Jatta (Hamburger SV, Germany), Noah Sonko Sundeberg ( FK Ostersunds, Sweden ) and Alexander Jallow (FK Goteborg, Sweden ) are not yet available for national duties.